IFEANYI MICHAEL ONWUACHU is a chemical engineer and the MD of JANKSMAY GLOBAL SERVICES a subsidiary of A.C.O ALLIED INDUSTRY LIMITED, one of the major players in clearing and forwarding business in Nigeria. He recently spoke to ANAMBRA PEOPLE’S MAGAZINE on the opportunities in clearing and forward business in Nigeria and sundry issues. Excerpts;
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INTO CLEARING AND FORWARDING?
I joined the Industry in 2015 and wouldn’t say I have stayed that long in the business. However, I feel I have found my place of purpose because I made it a point of duty to involve myself with the whole CHAIN PROCESS involved in CARGO SHIPPING.
WHAT WAS THE PROCESS OF OBTAINING THE LICENSE LIKE?
Well, obtaining a CUSTOM LICENCE is not really a big deal, because you only have to go through the right channel and present all the necessary documents and then undergo CUSTOMS tutelage on the dos and don’ts . Of course, Customs will have to come for an office inspection to certify you have a visible office where you operate.
HOW TASKING HAS IT BEEN FOR YOU IN THIS CAREER?
I think amongst every industry I can think of in Nigeria, Maritime seem to be more strenuous. You can’t survive in this Industry if you are not patient, tolerant and intelligent. It requires vast understanding of all chain of commerce. Constant research and consultancy is a key requirement in our line of work.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR EDGE OVER OTHERS?
What I don’t take for granted is proper logistics and quick response time to prevailing issues.
WHAT IS YOUR SPECIALIZATION IN CLEARING AND FORWARDING BUSINESS?
Basically I specialize on general commodities that are all duty payable.
IT IS RARE TO HEAR NIGERIANS TALK GOOD ABOUT THE NIGERIA CUSTOM SERVICE; HAVE YOU ALWAYS HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE WITH THEM IN THE COURSE OF TIME?
I don’t think anyone would strive in this INDUSTRY without the cooperation of the NIGERIA CUSTOMS SERVICE. Of course there are always bad eggs amongst the good ones, so you just try to manage the situations as best as you can and always do the proper documentation with your work. That will help you avoid unnecessary stress and problems with Custom officials.
HOW DO YOU THINK CLEARING AND FORWARDING BUSINESS CAN BE DIGITALIZED FOR TRANSPARENCY?
I believe we’re already in that era. The world at large is already a global village and every information is digitalized. In 2018, NIGERIA CUSTOMS SERVICE introduced a new platform that is user friendly and that also helped to cut down the excessive losses and loopholes they had with their old PLATFORM. SHIPPING CARRIER & TERMINAL HANDLERS are all in line with this new DIGITALISED SYSTEM of clearing which in no time you may not even require a physical presence to get your cargos delivered. So basically this will bring about TRANSPARENCY and will definitely curb the unusual loss of Revenue in the NIGERIA MARITIME SECTOR.
CAN YOU TELL US THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FREIGHT FORWARDER AND A CLEARING AGENT?
Well for most people, a Freight Forwarder and a Clearing agent can seem entirely the same, but in shipping Terminology they’re different.
A freight Forwarder is a Multi function agent/operator who ensures the movement of goods of his/her client from Point A to point B;
Whereas A CLEARING AGENT is essentially an agent who specifically takes care of the CUSTOMS CLEARANCE aspect of the business which is basically what most of my colleagues are into.
My company does both because we have involved ourselves in the whole chain process right from PRODUCTION, LOADING, BOOKING AND SHIPPING. These are the few edges we have compared to typical CLEARING AGENTS at Nigerian Seaports
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE IN CLEARING AND FORWARDING BUSINESS?
I have unimaginable dream of things I want to achieve in this industry. I intend to own my own Terminal someday and eventually be a big player in TERMINAL OPERATIONS. With that achievement, I can employ at least 3,000 staff working for us and introduce a more systemized method of operations in our MARITIME INDUSTRY.
A lot of things are being taken for granted and the passion I have is to be the front runner in introducing these changes.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S MOVE TO ACTIVATE THE ONITSHA RIVER PORT?
I’ll say, that move is one of the most ambitious moves the federal government will embark on in the South East. There will be massive jobs and Anambra is on the verge of becoming a 24 hour economy. I believe it will improve the fortunes of the state.